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A Hymn By Sedulius, In A Prayerbook

A Hymn By Sedulius, In A Prayerbook

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 820

Shelfmark: Royal MS 2 A.xx

Item number: f.50r

Length: 23

Width: 16

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A collection of prayers, hymns, liturgical material, charms, and extracts from the gospels on healing miracles, this prayerbook belongs to a group which, on the basis of their scripts, probably were produced in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia during the late 8th and early 9th centuries. It may have been at Worcester Cathedral during the Middle Ages. Like the other prayerbooks, this one gathers the material around a theme, in this case centred upon healing, focusing on the Trinity as healer of mankind. It has been suggested that it was made for a medical person, possibly a woman physician, based upon some feminine word endings. The title, written in red, identifies the text as a hymn 'on the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ,' by the 5th-century professor turned cleric, Sedulius. In order to provide a Christian history to rival that of the pagan epic poets, Sedulius created verses which became well-known epigrams in the early Middle Ages, appearing in painted and sculpted images. In the prayerbook, the lines of the poetic verses are filled out with long strokes in the middle to make them fill the page uniformly (line-fillers), and the coloured infills in the letters serve as a kind of punctuation.

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